Saturday, November 03, 2012

Take the Lowest Place

Take the Lowest Place

November 3, 2012
Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.  If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  And I do not know which I shall choose.  I am caught between the two.  I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better.  Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.  Philippians 1:21-24
"Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to a higher position.'  Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."   Luke 14:10-11


St. Teresa of Avila expressed the range of emotions people affected by the Super Storm are probably going through this week.  Once, when she was traveling, her cart tipped, spilling her into a muddy stream. Soaked and irritated, Teresa looked to heaven and cried, "God, if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!"  However, she also knew that God was not merely a distant ruler, but an everyday friend.  In fact, a poem found on her desk after her death reads, "Be not perplexed, be not afraid, everything passes, God does not change.... He who has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices." 
Let us prayer that those displaced and injured this week will not be perplexed by anything except the outpouring of love they encounter.  Amen.


Paul is torn between two goods -- life in service to the people or death in reunion with Jesus.  These choices are not an either-or proposition.  They are in fact two sides of the same coin.  His faith comes first and with it the holy longing to be reunited with Christ.  However, until that happens, he will be contented to be counted among the people -- in the same lowly place that Christ freely chose when He gave up his place in heaven to be with us.  By humbling himself in service, Paul knows that in death he will be exalted in union with Jesus.


Why is it that we need a disaster to bring out the real Christianity and charity in all of us?  One picture which struck me this week was not of the devastation or another amphibious rescue of people trapped by flood waters in their homes.  Instead it was the opening shot of this little photo essay posted on Mashable about acts of kindness prompted by "Super Storm Sandy."
The extension cord might be the perfect metaphor for Christianity.  If Paul had an extension cord, he would have rigged it up outside his home, too.  The other images are also striking.  People grilling food to give away.  Stores giving away food or electricity.  Even a CNN crew sharing the "juice" from its generator.  People peddling bikes to run a generator for folks to charge their phones.  Post-it Notes at Union Square to thank first responders for their help. 
There is one world.  One Love.  You can join this one world of love with your support.  While it is still too early to drive up to New Jersey or Staten Island to volunteer, that time for your fruitful labor will come.  You can help the rebuilding of the areas affected now with your financial support to efforts like the telethon last night. 
There is not any ONE organization.  However, here is a link of links to many groups who are helping. Your support will go a long way.

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